Cousins

There was a little gathering Sunday afternoon that meant a lot to me. It was a gathering of cousins on my mother’s side and a few members of the next generation as well. It was not a big, all-day family reunion; just a few hours of reminiscences over ice cream and other goodies including Grandma Kauffman’s date pudding.

It was significant because it never happens, even though many of us live within an hour of each other. Perhaps the last big gathering was 1998, and that was one of those all-afternoon affairs. There have been funerals in the meantime, of course.

It was significant because of the presence of the last surviving member of my mother’s family, Aunt Irene.

And it was significant because I believe this gathering will make it easier and more compelling to get together more often in this way, without a lot of fuss but with considerable meaning and affection.

It would not have happened without Facebook and the gifted family archivist, Cousin Wanda. A few months ago Wanda was at my house with her sister Glenda, who regularly comes from Florida to visit their mother, Irene, and Cousin Ed and his wife, who are back in the home area (northern Indiana) after a long absence. Wanda and Ed both brought old photos. As we looked at them, Ed and Wanda decided to set up a family group on Facebook where these could be posted.

50537455_10213888965725389_1835223475288014848_o

Cousins with Grandpa Ed and Grandma Mary Kauffman in about 1950. Ed and Kathy (top left in upper current photo collage) were babies on the laps. The tall girls at left and right in old photo are Doris and Rose, right and left in the upper right current collage and their sister Peggy (center), looking over Grandpa’s shoulder in old photo. My brother Dale (left in current center r. picture) is the tall boy second from right in the old photo; Loren (front current), the kid with his hands in his mouth (front old); and I am the girl with bangs in the center of the old photo. Marilyn (lower left current) is the girl in the center back (old). Only two of Aunt Irene’s girls are in the old photo because the others weren’t born yet. Wanda (glasses) is front right in old photo and Glenda (seated) is front left.

Over the next weeks, many cousins and second cousins signed onto the group as Wanda and Ed, but mostly Wanda, posted a flurry of old photos. The pictures and comments stirred memories. Others added photos, old and current. There are more than 160 photos on the site so far. We not only remembered the past but began to catch up with each other’s more recent history and current lives.

A number of us were already Facebook friends, but this family FB group was an interesting complement to that. In a way, our regular Facebook posts can tell us way more about each other than we would ordinarily learn in face-to-face gatherings. Our posts can reveal and stir up profound differences. Anybody who reads my blog, for instance, probably learns far more than they care to about my views. But the family-group posts emphasize what we have in common, our shared roots, memories, affection. Combining these different kinds of knowledge about each other is the challenge we implicitly agreed to face by getting together.

Actually, it was explicit in one case. Cousin Kathy and I agreed before the gathering not to talk about politics and religion! Instead we talked about sledding on Grandpa’s hill, heard excerpts from his diary, and coaxed my older brother into giving a firsthand description of the day of the early family tragedy that predated many of us, Uncle Harley’s 1946 plane crash.

The short gathering was too short. I didn’t have time to talk to everybody in a relaxed way. I hope we do it again soon. If you are reading this, Kauffman cousins, I love you!

 

2 thoughts on “Cousins

  1. Oh Nancy,

    I so enjoy your blog and have for years. Sometimes you articulate thoughts that I’m unaware of until I read your words.

    I have especially appreciated your postings related to your watchfulness since the shooting of Traychon and his subsequent death. I admire your strength to sit and be watchful. Thanks for sharing yourself in this way, your thoughts and feelings.

    The Highlands Ranch shooting last week was a mile from us. Our retirement community employs many local high schoolers and we have seen the effect on them since. Many have shared their feelings when asked.

    I also enjoyed your post on Cousins. I hadn’t thought of Charlie’s father’s death in years. It would have been interesting to hear Dale’s description of that family tragedy.

    Ez and I just returned from a Mosemann cousin reunion last weekend in Pennsylvania. The occasion was a celebration of life for one of my cousin’s husband. We too agreed not to discuss religion and politics. Too polarizing. But, it was a wonderful gathering with lots of stories and much laughter. We decided to do it again next year. In spite of many differences, we have so much in common because we’re family.

    So, again my thanks to you for your writings and for sharing them.

    Faye (I just can’t get my head around being married to Charlie. Oh my. We are friends on FB so I do see his political postings. It makes me sad, angry. But then, we all have our history and I’m sure part of whom I am today is the result of those “Charlie” years.)

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  2. Thank you, Faye! I still remember how a bright-eyed girl from town made a shy misfit country girl feel right at home in the “big” new high school. I’m so glad we’re still connected!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s